How a County in Illinois raked in $5mn and nabbed tax frauds?

Pratima Harigunani
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WASHINGTON, USA: Cook County, Illinois, has used Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution from LexisNexis Risk Solutions to collect close to $5.1 million in new revenue.


The LexisNexis fraud detection program utilizes technology and public record databases to identify erroneous and fraudulent property tax exemptions, the company explains in an announcement.

This money was able to be billed and collected as a result of a new law that was unanimously passed by both the Illinois House and Senate last year. Illinois’ Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios proposed the measure shortly after taking office when he noticed the large number of fraudulent property tax exemptions reported to his office by the public.

“This new law was greatly needed as Cook County never had any measure in place to deter taxpayers from claiming erroneous exemptions or any means to help recover the money that was unfairly received,” Assessor Berrios explained.


The role LexisNexis has played has been important as they have given the Assessor’s Office the means to identify both the taxpayers and properties receiving fraudulent exemptions, as explained.

Cook County is using a phased approach to detect the erroneous filings, first focusing its efforts on homestead exemptions allocated to senior citizens and ineligible parking spaces, and then a full review of property tax exemptions claimed in each of its 38 townships. Since the new law was passed last year, $5.1 million in revenue has been collected, $9.4 million billed, and $4.3 million is currently outstanding.

“Cook County is showing its taxpayers that it is a steward of taxpayer dollars, committed to discovering and correcting improperly requested tax benefits, as well as detecting and preventing fraud,” said Haywood Talcove, chief executive officer, Government, LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “County governments are experiencing difficult economic times, and every instance of improperly granted tax exemptions – whether misfiled by the taxpayer intentionally or unintentionally – deprives the government of dollars needed to fund critical government services like police, fire safety and education.”